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Re-Figuring Familiar Phrases

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Re-Figuring Familiar Phrases

Re-Figuring Familiar Phrases

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Lynn Neary sitting in for Liane Hansen. And joining us puzzle master Will Shortz. Hi, Will. It's really good to be talking with you again.

WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Lynn. Welcome back to the show.

NEARY: It's fun to be here. What's going on in your life these days, Will?

SHORTZ: Well, I just finished editing a very cool crossword. It's going to be for The New York Times next Sunday, May 6th. The whole New York Times Magazine is a baby boomer issue, and there's a special crossword online with clues written by Bill Clinton...


SHORTZ: ...who's a classic baby boomer. You know, he's a big crossword fan and the clues are funny. Some of them are just downright funny.

NEARY: You know, I've just recently taken up crossword puzzles. I'm still doing easy ones, but I'm afraid of yours still, Will. But...


SHORTZ: Don't be afraid. Start on Monday, see how far through the week you go.

NEARY: All right. Well, now, maybe you can remind us of the challenge that you left us with last week.

SHORTZ: Yes. I said, name a famous character in literature and legend, two words, five and four letters, respectively. The second letter of the first word is R. Move this R to the second position of the second word. Say the result out loud, and phonetically, you'll name a vehicle. What is it?

NEARY: And the answer to that?

SHORTZ: The answer is Friar Tuck of "Robin Hood" legend. Move the R and you get fire truck.

NEARY: Oh, that's great. Well, we had over 1,700 entries from people who tried to solve that puzzle, and our randomly selected winner is Sally Ross from Eugene, Oregon. Hi, Sally.


NEARY: What do you do there in Eugene?

ROSS: I'm a secretary. I work at an alternative school for at-risk youth.

NEARY: And have you been playing the puzzle for a long time?

ROSS: Oh, I've only been playing it a couple of months.

NEARY: Oh, you're lucky.


ROSS: Mm-hmm.

NEARY: Are you ready to play now?

ROSS: I sure am.

NEARY: All right. Well, Will, meet Sally, Sally, meet Will, and let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Sally and Lynn. Every answer today is a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase in which each half has exactly four letters. And the middle two letters of the first word are the same as the middle two letters of the last. For example, if I said, "departed years ago," you would say, "long gone." They both have ON in the middle.

All right. Number one is a picnic competition that involves hopping.

ROSS: Sack race?

SHORTZ: Sack race is right. Number two, it has 366 days. And it comes around quadrennially(ph).

ROSS: Oh, leap year.

SHORTZ: Leap year is right. Nickname for Hickock in the Old West.

ROSS: Wild Bill.

SHORTZ: Wild Bill is right. A fenced-in area for cows, horses or chickens.

ROSS: Oh, let's see. Barn? Barnyard.

SHORTZ: Yeah. Barnyard is right. I also would have taken farmyard, either one. How about an absolute tie?

ROSS: An absolute...


NEARY: Like in a race.


SHORTZ: That's right. And that race ends in a...

ROSS: Gosh. I was doing so good. Okay. Absolute tie is a - hmm - I'm at a loss here now.

SHORTZ: Go ahead, Lynn.

NEARY: Dead heat.

SHORTZ: Dead heat, race ends in a dead heat. Good.

ROSS: Okay.

SHORTZ: Try this one: each one has a fairway and a green.

ROSS: A golf course.

SHORTZ: Golf is right. You need a four-letter...

ROSS: Oh, four letter...

SHORTZ: ...OL...

ROSS: Yeah. A golf...

SHORTZ: With OL in the middle. Well, there are 18 of these on a golf course.

ROSS: Golf hole.

SHORTZ: A golf hole is right. Try this one.

ROSS: Okay.

SHORTZ: Co-author of "The Communist Manifesto."

ROSS: Oh boy.

NEARY: There's also a team of brothers who are comedian who have the same name.

ROSS: Karl Marx.

SHORTZ: That's it. Karl Marx is right.

ROSS: Okay.

SHORTZ: A written series of things one would love to get or do.

ROSS: List?

SHORTZ: Yes, what kind of list?

NEARY: Something you really want in your dreams.

SHORTZ: That's right.

ROSS: A wish list.

SHORTZ: A wish list. Good.

ROSS: Okay.

SHORTZ: How about an event to unload unwanted summer merchandise? An event to unload unwanted summer merchandise.

ROSS: Well, a sale.

SHORTZ: Uh-huh. What kind, if it gears after summer? What's the season after summer?

ROSS: Fall - a fall sale.

SHORTZ: A fall sale is it. Try this one - it involves a British spelling - middle ground between black and white extremes.

NEARY: You got me.

SHORTZ: Sounds like it got you both. That's the grey area.


NEARY: Ah. Okay.

SHORTZ: A gray area. And here's your last one: where to play eight ball.

ROSS: A pool...


ROSS: Pool...

SHORTZ: You got it. It's just that area of a house or a building, like a kitchen or a...

NEARY: Or a dining...

SHORTZ: A dining blank...

ROSS: Oh, a poolroom.

SHORTZ: A poolroom.

SHORTZ: A poolroom, that's it. Good job.

ROSS: Oh, it's so easy.


NEARY: I was thinking pool hole. That doesn't work.


NEARY: Well, that was a good one and you did really well.

ROSS: Oh, thank you.

NEARY: For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's "Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus," the "Scrabble Deluxe Edition" from Parker Brothers, "The Puzzle Master Presents" from Random House, volume two, Will Shortz' "Little Black Book of Sudoku," and "Black and White Book of Crosswords" from St. Martin's Press, and one of Will Shortz' "Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from Chronicle Books. And Sally, tell us, what member station do you listen to?

ROSS: I listen to KLCC in Eugene, Oregon.

NEARY: Sally Ross from Eugene, Oregon, thanks for being with us.

ROSS: Thank you very much. It's been fun.

NEARY: And now, Will, what's the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Well, this week's challenge comes from listener Steve Baggish of Littleton, Massachusetts. Think of a six-letter plural word naming a certain category of foods. Change the first letter to a C, then rearrange the result to get an adjective that describes many of these foods. What is it? So again, a six-letter plural word naming a category of foods; change the first letter to a C, anagram, and you'll get an adjective that describes many of these foods. What is it?

NEARY: All right, everybody, get to work, and when you have the answer, go to our Web site,, and click on the Submit Your Answer link on the Sunday Puzzle page. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call if you're the winner, and you'll get to play the puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Thanks a lot, Will. It was fun.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Lynn.


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